E3 2019 Hands-on with Xbox

Yesterday, Microsoft held their Xbox E3 Briefing which introduced us to new announcements like the western release of Phantasy Star Online 2 and an absolutely breathtaking appearance by Keaunu Reeves for Cyberpunk 2077.

Today, we were able get hands-on with some of the titles shown during the presentation.

Forza Horizon 4: LEGO Speed Champions

It was no surprise when Forza Horizon 4 appeared on stage during the briefing. The real surprise was when it was revealed that the game would be teaming up with LEGO for its new expansion.

We had a chance to drive through one of the courses in the game, getting a chance to do so as two different vehicles. The thing that surprised me the most is just how well the world of Horizon blends in with the use of LEGO bricks. Hearing the guiding voices of Horizon introduce the expansion and talking about pirates and ghosts was bizarre, but it also worked surprisingly well.

You can see how each brick makes up the vehicles- and the environments as you race through them. Running through small trees and fences used to feel a bit shameful, but now seeing a burst of LEGO bricks when running through objects in the environment actually makes it feel more enjoyable.

The Forza Horizon 4: LEGO Speed Champions expansion launches on June 13th for $19.99

Halo: The Master Chief Collection- Halo: Reach (PC)

I’ve been a fan of Halo since the LAN party gatherings of the original Halo: Combat Evolved on the original Xbox. Eventually dabbling lightly in the originall PC release of the game.

I was very excited when it was announced that Halo: The Master Chief Collection would be released on PC via both the Microsoft Store and Steam.

I had a chance to sit down with a mission from Halo: Reach to see how the game handles and left impressed. It was a smooth experience, with the game handling just about how you would expect an FPS on a PC to handle.

The games in the MCC will be released individually, beginning with Halo: Reach. The MCC will also be available via Xbox Game Pass for PC which started beta yesterday, as well as individual purchase options for each entry in the series for $9.99 each (With the Halo 3: ODST campaign coming in at $4.99).

State of Decay 2: Heartland

State of Decay returns to Trumbull Valley, the setting of the first game, with its new Heartland expansion.

State of Decay 2: Heartland is a story focused expansion, letting you start off as Quincy- an ex-con and member of the Network with his partner Helena, or as Larisse, the long-lost daughter of Mickey Wilkerson and her aunt Flora. Introducing a story based expansion with ties to the first game is an interesting way to stitch the narratives of both games together.

Of course, along the new narrative path, you’ll still be able to recruit characters and set up bases, including Jurassic Junction, the biggest base yet.

State of Decay 2: Heartland contains over 8 hours of story-focused gameplay and is available now for $9.99, or free to subscribers of Xbox Game Pass.

HyperDot

The last title I checked out was HyperDot from Tribe Games. The premise is simple: you’re a dot and you have to dodge things.

That simple idea however, quickly became trickier as I went through the levels and was introduced to some different mechanics and patterns. One level had a “King of the Hill” kind of element, requiring you to spend time withing a specific area… while also dimming the lights and making it harder to see the approaching objects. Another level tied the movement of projectiles to your own movement- meaning that things only move when you do. It was a slow, tricky stage as I navigated between objects to collect 8 coins in order to pass. HyperDot includes over 100 levels, as well as a multiplayer mode and level creator.

The game was being shown with a few different control schemes, including use of the Adaptive Controller.

Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2

A number of years ago, I remember being excited about the reveal of the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller- only to be immediately turned off by the price. This year, Microsoft announced the Elite Series 2.

Improving on the previous model, the Series 2 gives even more options to players, including the option to adjust the tension on the thumbsticks, new thumbstick and paddle options, and the ability to have three different profiles. The controller also now comes with a dock to replenish the rechargable battery that will give you up to 40 hours of playtime.

While I didn’t play anything with the controller, I did have some (literal) hands-on time with it. It’s got a nice weight to it and the new rubber grips feel great. I can’t deny that it feels like a solidly built controller.

However, as was the case with the original Elite controller, I find myself incredibly hard-pressed to justify the $179.99 price point (though being compatible with the upcoming Project Scarlett is a nice reassurance). For those out there that are wanting to pick up the Elite Series 2, you can pre-order it now.